Calls for increased diversity in Student Government


August PelliccioNews Writer

Southern’s Student Government Association advertises as an
organization that promotes students’ welfare, and protects students’ rights. They urge that all
voices are welcome.

Feb. 6, a dialogue was opened by president Joe Bertolino about social justice and racial
inequality at Southern. The community came together with passion, and outlined the change they
would like to see.

One notable request that was made was the forward movement of diversified SGA. Eric
Clinton, president of Southern’s Black Student Union, alleged that SGA showed a lack of
diversity among its representatives.

In response to the concern, SGA representative Aidan Coleman invited students from all
walks of life to attend their meetings, Fridays at 1 p.m.

“Not one of us that are on student government right now would ever discourage anyone of
any creed, gender, religion or background from running,” said Coleman. “It’s really important
for me, as a student government member for everyone to know that.”

Coleman said, at the end of the day, that dedication to equality is what SGA is all about.

“If we can help at all, please just let us know,” said Coleman. “We want to do what’s best for
students.”

After several community conversations, a peaceful protest and month of downtime, SGA vice
president, Becky Kuzmich, said there is room for change.

“SGA is made up of 25 individuals,” said Kuzmich, “who represent a student body of over
6000.”

She said the goal is to represent everybody on campus, and that they try their best. However,
Kuzmich said the effort of representing a diverse community of people equally could always be
improved on.

“We would like students to know that our main role on campus is to be the voice of our
students,” said Kuzmich, “and we strive to be their advocate on campus.”

She emphasized that they are on the students’ side, and will continue to support the campus
community.

“We are students just like them,” said Kuzmich.

Kuzmich was present at a Feb. 14 meeting, when Clinton’s request was mentioned again.

“I do think that Eric’s comments were warranted,” said Kuzmich. “SGA strives to
consistently represent students as best we can, but it is something that we can improve on.”

Clinton was not available to comment on whether progress has been seen since last month’s
community conversations.

In a “Your Voice, Your Government” brochure circulated by SGA, they encourage students
to run for a position as a representative.

“This opportunity is open to anyone,” it reads, “and we strongly encourage students who have
a voice and or have a cause that they believe needs to be heard, to run.”

Kuzmich said even through these moments of negative attention, SGA’s president Julie
Gagliardi has remained a sponsor for all people on campus.

“She has been a phenomenal advocate for our students from day 1, and I know that she will
continue to advocate for our students and lead our organization in order to best support our
students,” said Kuzmich. “I have been proud to serve beside her.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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